Just south of Mount Rainier National Park is Tatoosh Peak, the southernmost peak in the Tatoosh Range. Tatoosh is within the Tatoosh Wilderness which is part of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Because its distance from other peaks in the range and with the access well outside the National Park, it is much less climbed than the other Tatoosh Range peaks. What Tatoosh offers is a nice trail hike up to a superb summit that once had a lookout tower, built in 1932. You can also access Tatoosh Lakes, likely a local fishing favorite.
Distance: 4.5 miles
Summit Elevation: 6,310 feet
Elevation Gain: 3,600 feet
Access: Gravel, rough if not graded recently
From Packwood on Hwy 12, drive 4 miles on the paved Skate Creek Road and turn right onto FS 5270, a gravel road. Continue 5.8 miles to a junction with 5270-990... stay to the right at the junction and drive another 1.5 miles to the trailhead on the right. Road can get rough at the end. For access from the trail near Packwood, once you cross over the Cowlitz, 1/2 mile from Packwood on the Skate Creek Road, turn right onto Cannon Rd. Continue upriver (the road becomes FR 5290 shortly) for 9mi. On arriving at an intersection, turn right and continue on 5290 for another 1.2mi to the trailhead near Hinkle Tinkle Creek.
The Tatoosh Trail starts out in the trees climbing around 16 switchbacks, then traverses to a trail fork where you can pick the peak or the lakes. To the peak, the trail winds around several grassy basins below the summit, eventually reaching the ridgeline. Snowfields can last into July here. The trail than takes the ridge to the summit.
In route, you can take a short side trip to a saddle 100 feet above the trail that gives a view of Tatoosh Lakes which are not visible from the summit. Also, Martha Hardy wrote a book called "Tatoosh" during her time as a fire watchman on this lookout.
Mount Rainier from Tatoosh Peak
Tatoosh Lake below with Cowlitz Chimney on the horizon
Tatoosh Peak trail with peak 6050 in distance
Trail traversing the basins below the summit
East side of Mount Rainier National Park & Mount Stevens in center
Looking south from the summit with Butter Peak at the end of the ridge and Mount Adams in the distance
Looking south to the Goat Rocks
Dropping from the summit directly down to the trail
Established with a camp in 1930. We learn from the Chehalis Bee-Nugget newspaper on August 14, 1931 "Clarence Thompson is home from Tatoosh lookout, having hurt his knee." A few years later, the lookout building was built in 1933, as an L-4 cab. In 1946 the USGS placed a benchmark stamped "Tatoosh" three feet south of the lookout. Tatoosh became famous that year as well because of Martha Hardy's book, "Tatoosh", published by Macmillan in 1946. It was about the day to day life as a firewatcher women. The building was destroyed in 1966.
1936 Recreation Map
Looking North 7-23-1934
Looking Southeast 7-23-1934
Looking Southwest 7-23-1934